cat·​a·​clysm | \ ˈka-tə-ˌkli-zəm How to pronounce cataclysm (audio) \

Definition of cataclysm

3 : a momentous and violent event marked by overwhelming upheaval and demolition broadly : an event that brings great changes an international economic cataclysm

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Other Words from cataclysm

cataclysmal \ ˌka-​tə-​ˈkliz-​məl How to pronounce cataclysmal (audio) \ or cataclysmic \ ˌka-​tə-​ˈkliz-​mik How to pronounce cataclysmic (audio) \ adjective
cataclysmically \ ˌka-​tə-​ˈkliz-​mi-​k(ə-​)lē How to pronounce cataclysmically (audio) \ adverb

Synonyms & Antonyms for cataclysm



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Examples of cataclysm in a Sentence

floods, earthquakes, and other cataclysms The country barely survived the cataclysm of war. The revolution could result in worldwide cataclysm.
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Recent Examples on the Web In 2013, only a few years after the last economic cataclysm, the state’s Republicans made the deepest cuts to any unemployment insurance system in the country. Ava Kofman, ProPublica, "How North Carolina Transformed Itself Into the Worst State to Be Unemployed," 30 June 2020 What indeed was the United States from its inception, traversing the cataclysm of the Civil War and Reconstruction, down to the era of World War I? Washington Post, "‘Union’ tells the origin story of the United States through 19th-century voices," 26 June 2020 The flashes were so intense, even after crossing unfathomable distances in space, that whatever had produced them seemed unlikely to survive the cataclysm. Marina Koren, The Atlantic, "A Mysterious Rhythm Is Coming From Another Galaxy," 26 June 2020 Those who saw cataclysm in the auroral display were not exactly wrong: just ahead of their time. The Economist, "What’s the worst that could happen? The world should think better about catastrophic and existential risks," 25 June 2020 Writers share stories of a world—and a future—transformed by a viral cataclysm. Wired Staff, Wired, "What Will Science, Tech, and Life Look Like After Covid-19?," 18 June 2020 Their field research, undertaken at the peak of the Cold War, was intended to discern how people responded to a cataclysm, and Mooallem tells us their findings helped change understandings of human nature. David James, Anchorage Daily News, "In ‘This Is Chance!’ 3 days that shook Anchorage, and the woman who helped hold it together," 7 June 2020 The cataclysm of Covid-19 offers an opportunity to reshape health care in ways that may not have seemed possible just a few months ago. Keith Corl, STAT, "When the Covid-19 pandemic is over, health care must not return to business as usual," 23 Apr. 2020 Still, Eichengreen insisted that both the 1918 pandemic and the economic cataclysm of the nineteen-thirties had things to teach us in confronting the coronavirus. John Cassidy, The New Yorker, "An Economic History Lesson for Dealing with the Coronavirus," 18 Mar. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'cataclysm.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of cataclysm

1599, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for cataclysm

French cataclysme, from Latin cataclysmos, from Greek kataklysmos, from kataklyzein to inundate, from kata- + klyzein to wash — more at clyster

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Time Traveler for cataclysm

Time Traveler

The first known use of cataclysm was in 1599

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Statistics for cataclysm

Last Updated

11 Jul 2020

Cite this Entry

“Cataclysm.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 15 Aug. 2020.

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More Definitions for cataclysm


How to pronounce cataclysm (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of cataclysm

: something that causes great destruction, violence, etc.

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Spanish Central: Translation of cataclysm

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